Skip to main content

Look Inside: Gino's Market - Phillipsburg, NJ

Gino's Market
Owner: Gino Forteburno
Opened: 1977
Cooperative: none
 541 Congress St, Phillipsburg, NJ
Photographed: January 2022
I've wanted to come here to Gino's Market for quite some time, and I was initially planning to come here on the same day that I visited Towne Market and Cather's for the first time. Something told me to visit Cather's instead of Gino's, possibly just the fact that it was more on my way home than Gino's, but oh man my intuition has never led me so wrong. I did get to return to Gino's in January 2022, and it was entirely worth the stop. Everyone passing through Phillipsburg should be stopping here for lunch!
I did, and I got an amazing sandwich (more on that shortly), and also talked to Gino for a while. He told me all about the history of the store, which began back in 1920 when the Ingersoll company (now Ingersoll-Rand, a maker of industrial and construction equipment) was developing a large part of Phillipsburg for their factory and housing for their workers. They also established this grocery store as a company-owned grocery store for the workers.
Well, in 1939, the United States government started cracking down on monopolies, and Ingersoll was one of them. The company, of course, was paying its employees, only to have them buy houses from the company and moving in and buying groceries at company-owned stores. So the government ordered Ingersoll to sell the store to a private owner, whose name I didn't get, in 1939.
That owner retired in 1977, which is when Gino bought the store. As we can see, it's remained almost entirely unchanged since then -- but this time in a good way! The small space has a solid selection of the basics but the main attraction here now are the sandwiches. In the image above, you can see a doorway to the left of the deli counter. That leads to a second small room with a counter, a small grill, and a stove. That's where the cheesesteaks are made. And according to that article, that room used to be an arcade.
The space has been wonderfully preserved but there's no ancient food sitting out on the shelves for years. Everything seems to turn over plenty, always a good sign.
And what a great front area! I wandered around the store and looked at everything while Gino made my sandwich (ham and cheese on a hard roll for $4.50, plus some absolutely incredible macaroni salad served in a cardboard carton like you might get Chinese food in for $2.50). Now I love to eat, but believe it or not I couldn't finish either one of those...
I think this image captures the size of the sandwich, but not how stuffed it was. It was absolutely packed with many layers of ham, cheese, and lettuce. How can such a simple sandwich be so good?! Well, I think a big part of it was the roll, which was exceptional. Crusty, chewy, and soft inside. This store is worth the visit for the charm or the sandwiches, but with both combined? You don't find this anywhere else! Don't forget to check out our other posts today, linked above and the former Ahart's.